Kishida’s appointment of son as secretary questioned

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is seen with his eldest son, Shotaro Kishida, right, whom he appointed as an executive secretary.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s appointment of his eldest son as one of his executive secretaries has been criticized as “nepotism” by opposition parties and even within the ruling parties.

A widely shared view is that it was at least a case of terrible timing, because the younger Kishida’s appointment as an executive secretary to the prime minister for political affairs was announced amid falling Cabinet approval ratings. This could be a new sources of concern for the Kishida administration.

In a question-and-answer session at the House of Councillors on Friday, with representatives from both the ruling and opposition parties responding to the prime minister’s recent policy speech, Kishida explained the aim of the personnel decision, saying, “At the turning point of one year since the start of the administration, I made the decision comprehensively from a perspective of the quick response ability of the prime minister’s secretary team.”

Kishida’s eldest son, Shotaro, 31, assumed the post on Tuesday. He is one of eight executive secretaries assigned to support Kishida. They come from government ministries and agencies. An example is Takashi Shimada, who like Kishida’s son is an executive secretary to the prime minister for political affairs. Shimada previously served as a vice economy, trade and industry minister.

Kishida’s decision has been criticized by both the ruling and opposition parties. For example, some ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers said that “it was blatant nepotism” and “the prime minister was too insensitive to public opinion.”

On Friday, Natsuo Yamaguchi, the leader of ruling coalition partner Komeito, told reporters, “It is our party’s principle not to make relatives of our lawmakers their secretaries.”

Criticism of the appointment has continued because those in the post of executive secretary to the prime minister are in charge of coordination of political schedules, among other duties, for which they require extensive experience and personnel connections.

Kishida’s intention to make the appointment was realized without any major opposition from those around him, which indicates that the prime minister has no aides who are prepared to give him blunt advice.

One aide to Kishida said, “I didn’t think the issue would cause criticism to this extent.”